Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 04 November 2011 00:00
“I’m doing all I want to be doing and I’m having a lot of fun with all my work,” New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel told the Great Neck Record during a recent, very relaxed lunch. Brimming with enthusiasm and energy, Great Neck’s 16th District assemblywoman looked back with great pleasure on a productive year and is anticipating the excitement of a new Assembly session coming up in a few months.
Reviewing the past year Assemblywoman Schimel spoke of it as “the most successful legislative session in recent history.” She noted the on time balanced budget “with no new taxes … that closed a $10 million deficit and cut state spending by $3 billion over last year.” Ms. Schimel said that she and her colleagues “successfully fought to mitigate the executive budget’s drastic cuts to vital public services and made critical restorations in education, health care, job creation, and economic development.”
Ms. Schimel spoke of the Marriage Equality Act as another major accomplishment. The past session, she said, “the New York State Legislature took a huge step forward in extending marriage equality to all New Yorkers.” The Marriage Equality Act was signed into law immediately following its passage. “It affords homosexual couples the same legal marital status as heterosexual couples,” she explained. Following the passage, Ms. Schimel, a sponsor of this legislation, stated: “I am proud to live in New York State where all people have equal rights under the law.”
Complete streets legislation is another source of pride and satisfaction for the assemblywoman. She sponsored the Complete Streets legislation “to help ensure the streets of our community are safe.” This law requires transportation planners to consider safer crossings and roadways for commuters and pedestrians. Under this new law, design features to be considered by transportation officials include sidewalks, paved shoulders for bicycle use, bicycle lanes, lane striping, crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and other traffic-claming measures.
Ms. Schimel has been equally interested, and an outspoken state leader, against hydrofracking, what she explained is “a dangerous method of natural gas extraction.” The New York State Assembly recently passed legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Schimel, that places a moratorium on hydrofracking until June 1, 2012. Ms. Schimel further explained that hydrofracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, “is a method used to create fractures that extend out after drilling for natural gas.” She went on to say that “This procedure has created significant controversy because of its potential to release harmful chemicals into New York’s drinking water.” Ms. Schimel attended all meetings regarding hydrofracking, “trying to slow down the process … people have health concerns.”
New York State redistricting is yet another concern on the assemblywoman’s agenda. Ms. Schimel spoke of a redistricting hearing. Her main concern is that “they don’t bleed my district into Queens … Long Island is Long Island … there’s a different sensibility, we need a different voice on Long Island.”
Assemblywoman Schimel also briefly touched on the ever-present subject of mandate relief. This has been, and will continue to be a priority.
Just prior to her recent lunch date with the Record, Ms. Schimel had just met with LIPA officials. They have been involved in discussions on how to work together to enhance small businesses.
And, as ever, both in past sessions, and in the future, Ms. Schimel promised continue work on issues to find ways to stimulate the economy. And, also, another longtime focus, she will continue to work to curb gun violence. She is working with the New York State Chapter of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns.
Assemblywoman Schimel is proud of her accomplishments to date and extremely proud to have been chosen to participate in the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, a nationwide group, to represent New York State. She works with other legislators from states across the country and meetings are held around the country. All of this work is funded by grants.
Looking towards a new session in the new year, Michelle Schimel is very much looking forward to going back in January 2012. “It should be a good year … we are coming back on a high note,” she said with great enthusiasm and her usual boundless energy. Assemblywoman Schimel anticipates another on-time budget and another strong year.